The Oregon Department of Transportation will open a new multi-use viaduct path along the Willamette River this Friday. This new viaduct is part of the large I-5 Whilamut bridge project and is one of several multi-use path improvements completed as part of that project.
The path starts east of the Knickerbocker Bridge and runs along the south side of the Willamette River until it joins a new path that the city of Springfield is building along Franklin Boulevard. The City of Springfield is expected to install a stutter flash crossing of Franklin Boulevard near that connection as well. Though some advocates recommended keeping the existing South Bank Path that crosses under Franklin Boulevard to allow for easier connection for east bound cyclists it will be closed on June 30 so that restoration work can be completed in that area.
ODOT says that the new path “eliminates dangerous curves, improves commuter safety for cyclists, and offers beautiful views of the river and the Whilamut Passage Bridge.” A new path along the south side of the Willamette River is in the Glenwood master plan and this viaduct will be an important connection once that path is complete and as Springfield continues it’s Glenwood revitalization work.
The Lane Council of Government’s (LCOG) Willamette River Open Space Vision has been making the rounds lately and will be presented to local elected officials in June. It is a vision of what citizens would like the area to look like in 20 years, and LCOG is trying to gain as many community endorsements of possible in order to give the plan some momentum and “heft.”
This vision is broad; it encompasses river flow and health, agriculture, food security, transportation, and many other things. It also provides a great wish list for future bike paths and routes in the area, including some already scheduled for construction. Take the jump for exciting details.
This Friday, April 30th, the section of the South Bank Willamette River Path that runs under Interstate 5 between the Knickerbocker Bridge and Franklin Boulevard and the Glenwood area will be closed to all bicycle and pedestrian traffic from 7 am to 7 pm. The closure is part of the ongoing construction of the new I-5 Willamette River Bridge.
This is a rare case where there will probably not be a clear detour to get cyclists to a convenient alternate route. This particular stretch of the South Bank Path, pinned between the river and the railroad tracks, just doesn’t have many other options. If your ultimate goal is connecting from downtown Springfield to Eugene, the network of North Bank Paths will connect up just fine (see below for the current state of the detours there). The direct connection from Glenwood to Eugene is another issue, though. Cyclists could skirt the south edge of eastbound lane of Franklin Boulevard, since a combination of gravel path and narrow walkway along that side of the road is passable with a mixture of riding and walking (Keep a sharp eye out for bikes or peds coming the opposite direction, since the westbound half of Franklin has no safe margin for non-motorized traffic!). Or, splurge on a little bus fare and treat your bike to a ride inside the EmX to get over the construction zone in style on Friday.